Daimoku yesterday and today. A few affirmations and a phone call to a dear friend. Yep, it takes a village for me to prepare for a family member’s arrival. I arrived at the airport in record time. It was like I got every green light on the way. And then I was standing at the baggage area and I caught site of the man I knew as my father, waiting for his luggage, a cell phone pressed to his ear. Was he calling me? No, probably his wife. He seemed taller than the last time I saw him. Which was almost a decade ago. Suddenly, it came to me – oh, this is how it’s going to be. Wake up, girl. I waited for a few minutes, checking in with myself about how I was feeling. Well, what the fuck was I waiting for and I approached him, tapping him on his shoulder. He turned and smiled. Ah, he has dentures now. He looked better than I thought he would. I guess a broken hip and prostate cancer gave him a second wind. Maybe mum should really look like Shirley Bassey at the Oscars, right? I had somehow expected him to look more weathered, but there he was looking every inch the retired businessman. Sports jacket, shirt, polished modern shoes.
He gave me an awkward hug/pat kind of thing. I tried to wheel the larger of his two matching bags, but he wouldn’t let me. I asked him while we were driving downtown why he had come. He replied that he had meant to come for a long time, but it was always something; he had broken his hip and had a pin put in and then there was the prostate cancer and he had gone to New York to one of the big hospitals and he was fine now. (Yep, you’re fine, but my mother is dying.) He didn’t really answer the question. I asked him how his wife felt about him coming to see his ex-wife. He looked at me as if I had asked a ridiculous question. I don’t associate with ignorant people, was his reply. Once again, not a real answer. I think, oh, is that what my husband bitches about – me not really answering his questions. I hate being questioned and apparently so does my father. We chat about Vancouver real estate and the weather. Yes, we are charmers.
When he checked into his hotel, it was much to his chagrin, not what was he expecting. Well, you get what you pay for, I say. My dad is in fine Bajan form, and if you know anything about Bajans, you know exactly what I mean. He asks the questions, you answer them and then he sends you off with cake. He walked me back down to the parking lot and watched me drive away. I pulled over a few minutes later to wipe the tears from my eyes and called a friend so that I could just exhale him out. I debrief hubby at home (with a glass of wine) who can barely suppress his sense of righteousness. Once again he compares my dad to his. Charming sonsofbitches. I have to be careful what I tell him because I suspect it will come back to haunt me.